Also by this author
Bad Doctor cover

The Lady Doctor

£14.99 Buy now Recommend

Ian Williams provides another gentle look at the sufferings of humanity in this long-awaited follow-up to his much-acclaimed debut, The Bad Doctor.

Dr Lois Pritchard  is a salaried  partner at Llangandida  Health Centre with Drs Iwan James (subject of The Bad Doctor) and Robert Smith. She also works two days a week in the local Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinic. She is 40, currently single, despite the attentions of her many admirers, and is, by her own admission, ‘not very good with relationships’. When her estranged mother makes a dramatic appearance on the scene, demanding a liver transplant, Lois has to  confront her loyalties and make some hard decisions.

From the moment we see Dr Lois nipping out behind the surgery for a fag, we know we are in for a behind-the-scenes warts-and-all comedy drama. We meet a patient who regrets the Pinocchio face he had tattooed on his genitals; a man who resorts to desperate measures after being driven mad by his neighbours’ cats, and a prescription drug addict who plans to sue his previous doctors for failing to refuse him the drugs he demanded. Drugs – prescription, recreational, legal (coffee,  alcohol, tobacco) – and behaviours and attitudes surrounding  them – are a hot topic at Llangandida Health Centre.

Hardening government attitudes towards drugs and addiction, and patients’ demands to benefit from the re-emergence of psychedelic therapeutic research, don’t make a doctor’s life any easier,  but Ian Williams explores current medical issues and ethics with his trademark lightness of touch and wonderfully sly sense of humour, using his own experience as a practising GP to recreate the lives of both patients and health service practitioners.

Margaret McCartney for The Lancet

21 January 2019
I grew up accompanied with the Bunty. The stories were funny, challenging, always interesting. The hard work of this child’s reading was made easier by the drawings that explained meanings rapidly and non-verbally. Drawn communication can be direct and powerful. I recall Harry Horse, a political cartoonist, explaining that he could not say that a political leader was wicked, vain, and cruel but could draw them in a way that left little doubt as to his opinion. The cartoons of Private Eye can pithily capture what would otherwise have taken a paragraph or two, and be neither as memorable nor funny. The ability to use drawings to invite the reader in can induce interest in topics where a textual equivalent would be less appealing. When the Wind Blows, published by Raymond Briggs in 1982, illustrated the process of death from nuclear bomb to a wide audience—a subject unlikely to have had such appeal without the bittersweet humour of the drawings. Medicine benefits from such a realisation. The scholarly and often amusing “illustrated essays” by Hilda Bastian, who uses cartoons and text to elucidate concepts on evidence based medicine, help the reader understand topics from lead time bias to overdiagnosis. Type 1: Attack of the Ketones, a 2018 publication from Revolve Comics created with doctors in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), has sought to explain type 1 diabetes to young people who have been newly diagnosed, via the means normally used to thrill with superhero adventures. Graphic novels are entire stories written with pictures and text—as thick as a regular novel and capable of bringing just as much thought and richness. Ian Williams, author of The Lady Doctor, is a general practitioner (GP), comic artist, and writer. He calls the many books in this form “graphic medicine”—a small but burgeoning field of health professionals and patients writing and drawing about and on their experiences of medicine. The Lady Doctor is the second in what I hope is a series of at least three by Williams. The first, The Bad Doctor (2014), chronicled the tale of Dr Iwan James, a GP in a health centre whose work is often difficult and overwhelming and whose own mental illness is frequently problematic. Working in the same clinic is Dr Lois Pritchard. She is the Lady Doctor, a negroni-drinking, smoking, feminist sexual adventuress (to her regret, sleeping with a patient from the sexual health clinic where she also works) who has a no-nonsense—or indeed, an often distinctly unempathetic—attitude towards her patients, and a complicated relationship with her mother. It’s very funny and also often very sad. The Lady Doctor, as a title, is nicely ironic. The doctors of the Meddygfa Llangandida Health Centre are deliciously flawed, prone to swearing and self-doubt. The working relationships between the staff and the mixture of doubt, annoyance, and reassurance gleaned and introduced by them between clinics permeate the drawings. Sometimes a page depicts a full morning or afternoon of consultations—the infinite variety of general practice illustrated by a pageful of small drawings, such as a foot, a knee, an anxious face, and a questioning face. This works almost like a film in fast forward. Sometimes the session is broken with the permeating worries of the doctor cutting through. Sometimes several things are drawn that are happening at once—multiple viewpoints that other mediums struggle to show. But the nature of graphic medicine means that one can play with time and linger however one likes. We root for Lois when she meets her estranged mother, who wants some of her liver for a transplant, and ache for Lois as she tearfully cuddles her dog, alone at home after receiving bad news. A few years ago, an author friend was bemused when I assumed that a graphic novel she was reading was aimed at children; “it’s another kind of art”, she said. Indeed it is. Physicians used to draw a lot of freestyle, amateur medical drawings—pen sketches of where we felt the lump to communicate with our radiology colleagues, or drawings of the face to record the bruises and cuts of an assault. The move to computerised records has meant less of this illustrated record and we have lost a concise way of imparting lots of information. Graphic novels may be easy to read but should not be dismissed as therefore less worthy of attention. As a way of beginning to talk about what matters in general practice and health care more broadly, The Lady Doctor asks pertinent questions about the fragility of the humans—both patients and staff—who populate the NHS.

Page 45

4 February 2019
"So how are things with you? You sounded a bit upset on the phone." "I got a letter. From my mother." "From Cilla? Jesus Jones!" Haha, that's a great curse for those of us of a certain age. I might have to start using that. The good doctor returns - that's Ian Williams by the way, certainly not any of his creations - to tell us more of the going-ons at and by the practitioners and patients of the Meddygfa Llangandida Health Centre which, with sincere apologies to our Welsh customers, itself sounds like it's named after a particularly debilitating brain disease. Perhaps from reading too many comics... We will see Dr. Iwan THE BAD DOCTOR James, still covertly and timidly lusting after his very available titular co-worker, plus the supremely obnoxious Dr. Robert Smith, still just being a complete tosser, but the star of the show this time around is most definitely Lois. And her mum who tries her best to steal every scene she's in! They have something in common, our Cilla and Lois, which after not seeing each other for nearly forty years since her mum simply dropped everything and walked out of Lois' life as a tiny child is somewhat unexpected. That it is Lois' liver, well, that falls into the completely totally and utterly variety of unexpected... With no suitable husband material on the horizon (much to Dr. Robert's delight who is desperate for Lois not get herself up the duff and inconvenience the practice, well him at any rate...) and a drink habit verging on the cusp of getting out of hand, Lois finds herself at somewhat of a crossroads in life. Her long-standing crop of patients, including one particularly prescription-mad one, are doing her head in, plus her sideline of sorting people's bits and bobs out at the nearby genitourinary clinic is, shall we say, not exactly satisfying her professionally, despite its potential for the occasional moment of hilarity. Good job her mum's about to drop a hepatic hammer blow on her before promptly attempting to bulldoze her way back into her liver, I mean life! As before, Ian's art style minded me of Kevin FIELDER Huizenga, and actually this time around Andi THE CITY NEVER SLEEPS Watson. I think I've mentioned before he's exceptionally good at working expression into his characters' faces, including here one glorious sequence after a particularly bad inebriated life choice from Lois which me made howl with laughter. As before he completely eschews panel borders, frequently using single soft colour backgrounds with rounded corners. There is also a... trying to avoid spoilers... a rather more colourful section which I found mind-blowing. As did Lois. Once again, I really admire the careful attention paid to the construction of this work. I devoured it with delight and I do hope Ian holds to his original intention to make this a trilogy. One would presume therefore that Dr. Robert might be the final member of our triaging triumvirate to take his comics bow. Given the proverbial (and highly appropriate) bomb that gets dropped on him at the conclusion of this work which I hope is part of said set up, I look forward to watching his misery first hand in the future...
View source

Jera’s Jamboree

1 February 2019

On publication day, we’re delighted to be sharing with you Laura’s thoughts on The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams.

Dr Lois Pritchard is a salaried partner at Llangandida  Health Centre with Drs Iwan James (subject of The Bad Doctor) and Robert Smith. She also works two days a week in the local Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinic. She is 40, currently single, despite the attentions of her many admirers, and is, by her own admission, ‘not very good with relationships’. When her estranged mother makes a dramatic appearance on the scene, demanding a liver transplant, Lois has to  confront her loyalties and make some hard decisions. From the moment we see Dr Lois nipping out behind the surgery for a fag, we know we are in for a behind-the-scenes warts-and-all comedy drama. We meet a patient who regrets the Pinocchio face he had tattooed on his genitals; a man who resorts to desperate measures after being driven mad by his neighbours’ cats, and a prescription drug addict who plans to sue his previous doctors for failing to refuse him the drugs he demanded. Drugs – prescription, recreational, legal (coffee,  alcohol, tobacco) – and behaviours and attitudes surrounding  them – are a hot topic at Llangandida Health Centre. Hardening government attitudes towards drugs and addiction, and patients’ demands to benefit from the re-emergence of psychedelic therapeutic research, don’t make a doctor’s life any easier,  but Ian Williams explores current medical issues and ethics with his trademark lightness of touch and wonderfully sly sense of humour, using his own experience as a practising GP to recreate the lives of both patients and health service practitioners.

The Lady Doctor is my first graphic novel and I wasn’t sure if I would like it, however I thought it was amazing and read through it all in one sitting.  The characters were intriguing and even shocking at times, it held a realistic aspect of our GP service alongside a sly sense of humour.

Lois Pritchard, the main character is a GP at a Welsh Health Centre and a part time member of staff at a clinic. She is a forty-year-old smoker with relationship problems. This graphic medicine follows her frustrations with demanding and abusive patients, a reunion with her estranged mother and her stressful private life. The illustrations are wonderful and portray this as both witty and realistic. Williams explores current medical issues with privatization of clinic’s, drug use and gender equality in the workplace. I enjoyed The Lady Doctor and will be looking out to read The Bad Doctor.
View source

Bookish Beck

29 January 2019
This sequel to Ian Williams’s 2014 graphic novel The Bad Doctor returns to a medical practice in small-town Wales. This time, though, the focus is on Iwan James’s colleague, Dr. Lois Pritchard, who also puts in two days a week treating embarrassing ailments at the local hospital’s genitourinary medicine clinic. At nearly 40, Lois is a divorcee with no children, just a dog. She enjoys nights out drinking with her best friend, Geeta, but her carefree life is soon beset by complications: she has to decide whether she wants to join the health center as a full partner, a tryst with her new fella goes horribly wrong, and her estranged mother suddenly reappears in her life, hoping Lois will give her a liver transplant. And that’s not to mention all the drug addicts and VD-ridden lotharios hanging about. Williams was a GP in North Wales for 20 years; no doubt his experiences have inspired his comics. His tone is wonderfully balanced: there are plenty of hilarious, somewhat raunchy scenes, but also a lot of heartfelt moments as Lois learns that a doctor is never completely off duty and you have no idea what medical or personal challenge will crop up next. The drawing style reminds me of Alison Bechdel’s (and in the cover blurb she says, “Ian Williams is the best thing to happen to medicine since penicillin”), with single colors from pink to olive alternating as the background. I especially loved the pages where each panel depicts a different patient to show the breadth of people and complaints a doctor might see in a day. This review is on the short side for me, but I don’t want to resort to spoilers, so will just say that if you’re a fan of Bechdel and Posy Simmonds, or if you are unfamiliar with graphic novels and fancy trying one, do seek this out. The medical theme made it a must for me. In fact, Myriad Editions have a whole “Graphic Medicine” series that I’ll be keen to explore.
View source

Ninja Book Box

24 January 2019

Continuing in this grand and almost unheard of tradition of actually posting my thoughts about books I've recently read, I'm very excited to share one of the titles I talked about in our Indie Books Coming out in January post. Emma, the publicist for Myriad Editions, was kind enough to send over a copy of The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams and I read it in a morning.

I have yet to read a bad graphic novel from Myriad, and some of my go-to recommendations for non-superhero graphic novels are Myriad titles (Naming Monsters by Hannah Eaton and For the Love of God, Marie! by Jade Sarson, if you were wondering). I'm happy to report that this is still the case and I was impressed with The Lady Doctor.  It's a very simple premise and is in fact about a doctor who is a lady.

Lois Pritchard, a general practitioner at the Welsh Llangandida Health Centre and part-time staff at her local Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinic, is a forty-year-old, divorced, sarcastic smoker who by her own admission is "not very good with relationships." But when her estranged mother makes a dramatic reappearance demanding a liver transplant, Lois has to examine her loyalties and confront some hard decisions both in and out of the surgery room.

The Lady Doctor is a humorous and insightful look at the realities of working in the NHS, as well as the complexities of human relationships of all sorts, and the many ways in which people use (and sometimes abuse) their doctors surgeries. It mixes levity perfectly with more serious issues and I found myself really feeling for Lois as she tries to get her life together and deal with her issues! I really enjoyed the honesty as it shows that doctors aren't superhuman and are just people living their lives and doing a job, and the art and words pair really well together.

View source

Pipedream Comics

17 January 2019

The Lady Doctor in question is Lois, a GP from the Llangandida Health Centre in Wales, who also works in the local sexual health clinic. Both these occupations lead her into contact with a variety of larger-than-life characters, such as a prescription drug seeking guest house owner or a local lothario, as well as her own quirky colleagues in the medical profession. While this provides ample opportunity for the kind of outrageous medical tales we love to hear told, the real meat of the story revolves around Lois’ estranged mother reappearing out of the blue, in order to ask her for help with a liver transplant.

This arrival, brings to the surface years of angst about her mother leaving and also reminds us that Lois is not just a doctor but a person with their own issues and trouble to look after too. This discovery leads Lois on a journey of self discovery which sees her confronted with her own ethical and moral dilemmas about drug use, patient relations and of course brings into sharp focus her relationship with her mother.

The Lady Doctor has that classic English graphic novel feel we love in the work of Posy Simmonds, or more recently books like Mann’s Best Friend. It lilts and meanders along at a very careful pace, allowing the characters and dialogue to shine and also draw you in to the action. It’s a hefty book, that looks more like a prose novel when placed on your book shelf, but it is definitely a real page turner. There aren’t any real histrionics or jaw dropping moments, but that’s not to say it’s without drama, instead the story builds quietly and confidently with a natural ebb and flow like a conversation between old friends.

Williams does double duty on this book and, like the story, the artwork is relatively simple but packed with hidden depths. While much of it is talking heads in a treatment room or pub, he allows himself to really cut loose in a few places, either by using a technique of building up lots of detail in a quiet moment (similar to Jon McNaught’s excellent Kingdom) or with an all out series of colourful pages in the final third which are required to showcase an altered mental state and work to perfection.

While it might not have the quirky cool of some small press books, The Lady Doctor is a thoroughly absorbing read that benefits from not being flashy or faddy. Instead it relies on solidly realised and beautifully crafted characters who drive the story along and make it both very entertaining and also rather thought-provoking too. Instead of being all style and no substance it is very real and so very relatable and we will definitely be making a repeat appointment for any and all future books from Ian Williams as this is definitely a book which is worth the prescription.

Buying options